Vasco is heavily reliant on the port for most of its economic activity. Manganese ore mined in interior regions is brought to Mormugao by barges navigating the rivers Mandovi and Zuari, and then either collected in the Mormugao Port to be loaded onto bulk carrier ships or directly loaded onto the ships using trans-shippers. Ore which is collected on the port is handled by state-of-the-art machinery called MOHP (Mechanical Ore-Handling Plant). This includes massive bucket wheel loaders and miles of conveyor belts. The port has berthing facilities for large cruise liners as well as a floating dry dock. There are shipping and freight forwarding agents as well as offices of major mining companies based in the city.
The Mormugao Port Trust which operates the port is the largest employer in the Vasco region and has a complete mini-township in Headland Sada which includes schools, residential complexes and amenities for employees of the Port.
Bogmalo Beach is 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) from Vasco. This beach is quite risky as it has underwater currents. Hollant (Issorcim) and Baina are two smaller beaches around Vasco.
Apart from the nearby beaches, the city of Vasco is bereft of any major tourist attractions, the salient monument being the 400-year old Igreja de Santo André (St. Andrew's Church), located at the entrance of the city. However the Naval Aviation Museum near the airport is a popular tourist spot and is the only such museum in India. It profiles the evolution and history of Indian naval aviation through aircraft exhibits and rare photographs.
One of Goa's premier musical groups, Diamond Orchestra, hails from Vasco. The town is also home to several English bands from Goa, notably Lynx and Kollectiv Soul.
Vasco is known for the annual Shri Damodar Bhajani Saptah fair held in Shravan month of Hindu lunar calendar preceding the festival of Nag panchami.
Vasco da Gama hosted the relics of Saint John Bosco, albeit temporarily, on 21 August 2011, at the St. Andrew's Church, while the relics were on their world tour.
Like all towns and cities in Goa, Vasco celebrates the Shigmo/ xigmo and Carnival annually with a street parade where floats from all over Goa participate.
Like the rest of Goa, football is the most popular sport in Vasco. Two teams from the town have participated in the I-League - Vasco Sports Club and Salgaocar Sports Club. Salgaocar SC were Champions of the 1998-99 season of the erstwhile NFL. Tilak Maidan is a 15,000 capacity football ground based in the city. The stadium sporting a magnificent turf hosted I-league matches during April 2013, as the home ground for the four teams from Goa in the league, when Fatorda Stadium was closed down for renovation.
Although cricket is not as popular as football, a Vasco resident Shadab Jakati plays for Goa in the Ranji Trophy first-class competition and has also been selected to play for the Chennai Super Kings IPL franchise.
The city of Vasco falls under the boundaries of the Mormugao (Lok Sabha constituency) in the Lok Sabha. The current Member of Parliament is Narendra Keshav Sawaikar of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Vasco elects its representative to the Goa Legislative Assembly, the current MLA is Carlos Almeida of the BJP.
The National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR) located at Headland Sada is a research and development institution administered by the Ministry of Earth Sciences. It is responsible for administering the Indian Antarctic Program and maintains the Indian government's Antarctic research station, Maitri. In addition to laboratories for marine sample processing/analyses, it hosts a special low-temperature ice core sample storage facility.
Vasco-da-Gama has many schools of repute which provides quality education to the residents. The notable one being The Navy Children School, established in the year 1987, under the aegis of Naval Education Society registered at New Delhi. It is one of the eight similar institutions set up at important cities in India. Murgaon Education Society was established in 1971 with the noble goal of providing educational facilities at Vasco-da-Gama and in other parts of Murgaon Taluka. Mormugao Educational Society's College of Arts and Commerce locally known as MES College is a famous institution situated in Zuarinagar, Vasco-da-Gama, which provides higher education in Arts and Commerce.